Brain Fog and NaNoWriMo 2017

Will brain fog stop me from participating in NaNoWriMo this year? I hope not!

Looking through last October’s posts, it was very clear that I was totally into this whole NaNoWriMo thing. By this point last year, I had a clear idea what I was going to write and I was constructing my outline.

This year? I just don’t have it together.

Don’t get me wrong, my desire to participate (and win) NaNoWriMo for the third time in a row is there. I desperately want to participate. But I’ve got nothing.

The first year I participated, I spent a whole two hours, maybe less, in preparation. I had a basic outline and just hoped for the best. I did it . . . but it was a struggle.

Last year was a breeze. Am I allowed to say that? It really was. I had a few hiccups along the way, but I finished and I finished early. Again, am I allowed to say that?

So what’s the problem this year? This darn brain fog!

I’ve recently explained my health issues with Adrenal Fatigue and hypothyroidism. Things have gotten much better in that department but I’ve now come to the conclusion that if I consistently want a clear mind to be able to think and write, there are two things I just can’t eat. Wheat and sugar. I’ve had too much of those things the last few days and I am feeling the effects! I’m tired. Grouchy. Headaches. Slow to think. Uggggggggggg . . . . . .

So if I want to practice in National Novel Writing Month, I also have to participate in No Sugar November. Great . . . Isn’t caffeinated beverages and copious amounts of candy our thing in November? After all, that’s why there’s Halloween. Halloween was invented for all us “Starving Artists” (writers) to stock up on necessary supplies to make it through NaNoWriMo.

Just kidding!

So is there anything I can do to remedy this situation?

I don’t know. It may just be that I don’t participate this year. However, part of me feel like I need this. I need this as a way to kick start me, to get me back into my writing groove.

Brain fog is difficult to get over though. It’s possible . . . just takes time.

So right now I’m thinking I need to go back to a strict no gluten, no sugar diet (Natural sugars are ok.)

I also think I just need to kick myself in the butt and get things in gear. I only need to write a little less than 2000 words a day for 26 days in November (Sundays excluded). If I stick with it, then I’ll have a 50,000 word novel by the end. It doesn’t have to be a perfect work of art. It just needs to be words strung together in a semi cohesive story. Right? Right. I can do this!

motivation

P.S. As you know, I have another blog called Mountain Girl Speaks. I have a few recent posts you might be interested in.

Do you have an emergency water supply?

Being happy when you feel sad or mad.

 

Ok, that’s it for now. I’d love to hear from you. What are you doing this NaNoWriMo?

Posted in Health, NaNoWriMo, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Teach Your Kids About Writing Books

teach kids to write

Yesterday I had one of those amazing moments where I got to teach my kids about something I’m passionate about.

My son was putting together a book report for class and was having trouble. He didn’t understand what a climax in a book was or even how to find it.

I tried to explain it to him, but he just wasn’t understanding. That’s when I decided he needed some visual aid. I took down the poster I made on basic novel structure and walked him through it.

I was able to explain to him what inciting events were, plot points, pitch points, climatic sequences and resolutions.

He became excited as he began to see the connections.

Walking through the book he had just read, I was able to help him point out each of the major points in the story and where they fit into the basic structure of the book. This led him to being able to determine what exactly the climax of the story was and why it was the climax.

It was like a giant puzzle to him and he was able to piece it all together.

Then, as he thought about it, he became even more amazed at how almost every book he has read recently, falls into this same basic pattern. It was like he’d just discovered the biggest secret to books in the world.

He was literally beaming with excitement.

Watching him, I realized that I was looking at myself the very first time I learned the basic structure of novels.

When I had that “aha” moment, the whole world of writing changed for me. It was as if I’d unlocked the secrets of the universe. And believe it or not, that was just a few short years ago. Lucky for me, that structure had already been woven into the bones of my story telling long ago, I just never knew it was an actual thing.

But now I know about story structure and I can study it, learn from it and apply it to my books.

And you know what else? The most amazing, awesome and exciting part about it?

My son knows it now too, and he doesn’t have to wait until he’s graduated from college and learning it all on his own.

He can let it help him organize his papers (because we talked about other kinds of writing structures too) and he can rock the classroom with his succinct and awesome book reports.

This was an exciting mother moment for me because I wasn’t just a mom teaching her son something. I was also a writer teaching an eager student. That’s got to be one of the most awesome feelings in the world.

In case you missed it, I have a new blog that I’m working on. It’s going to be about non-writing topics. The most recent post is about the easiest way to clean with essential oils, but if you go to my first post and about page, you will get to see a little more of what this new blog is going to be about.  Please go visit Mountain Girl Speaks and subscribe for the latest posts. Thanks a bunch!

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New Blog: Mountain Girl Speaks

new blog mountain girl speaks

So after several months in development and a couple years of thinking about it, I’ve decided to launch a new blog/website on this first day of fall. I’ve long since thought I’ve needed a place where I can talk about things other then writing and where I wouldn’t be annoying to my wonderful Excited Writer readers.

If  you’ve been a long time reader, I thank you very much!

And for now I’m not going anywhere. And since you have been long time readers, you know I’m pretty passionate about life, writing and telling the world they matter and are worth it. This new blog/website will allow me to reach a wider audience of people who need my message.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned through learning how to write, is that you need to know and understand  your audience.

I love you guys and you are my audience of fellow writers. But I have another audience out there and so do you. Find your audience and change their lives for the better.

That’s what Mountain Girl Speaks is going to be all about. Changing lives for the better. I hope you will join me on this journey. It’s an exciting one for me that I know is going to change my life as well.

 

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When Poor Health Affects Your Writing, Work and Life

health writing life work

The New Me

For the first time in a very long time, eight months at least, I woke up this morning with a story on my mind. It took ahold of me and would not let me go. It caused me to toss and turn. It made my mind race and then demanded that I get up and write it down. I started writing about 5:30am and didn’t stop until almost 7:00.

It was a victory. It was a tiny miracle that I am profoundly grateful for.

For the first time in a very long time, I woke up this morning feeling like myself.

I’ve alluded in the past to the fact that I’ve been dealing with some health issues. After exhaustive research and tests and changing doctors, I finally have a diagnosis -sort of. I have sub-clinical hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue (to be confirmed next Thursday), and poor digestion/gut health.

Because of one reason right after another, my body is, or has been depleted of what it needs to keep going. This has had an effect on every aspect of my life. Very low energy, depressive moods, inability to handle stress, anxiety . . . and these are only some of the symptoms.

Even with all of this, the most frustrating symptom by far has been BRAIN FOG. It’s discouraging when half way through a conversation I can’t remember what we were talking about or people I’ve known for years, I suddenly forget their name. Worse still is barely being able to read. Being able to concentrate on a book has been impossible and every time I’d go to write, nothing would be there. I’m not talking about being inspired. I’m talking about not being able to form the words, the sentences or to have cohesive thoughts.

As writers, we know the best way to get better at writing is to write -every day if possible.

We live to write and when we’re not writing, it’s painful for us. At least, that’s the way it is for me.

So when I woke up this morning with a CLEAR MIND, and a story that would not leave me alone, it was a wonderful experience. It’s helped me to hope and to see that I’m getting better. It makes the medications, diet changes and life style changes that I’ve made, some of them very hard, worth it. I can continue to be patient with myself if that means I’ll get the full use of my mind and body back. With time and some tender care, everything will be all right.

Here’s a list of things I’ve tried to help me get better:

  1. Thyroid medication with both T3 and T4 hormones (under doctor supervision).
  2. Avoiding soy like the plague. (BTW, soy seems to be in EVERYTHING.)
  3. Avoiding wheat, gluten, most dairy and most processed sugar. (I really miss bread.)
  4. Adding homemade yogurt (small amounts because of the dairy).
  5. Adding some fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut and fermented peppers.
  6. Changing my daily multivitamin to one my body can process.
  7. Eating five small nutrient dense meals a day.
  8. Eating healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and butter.
  9. Eggs! I try to eat at least two eggs a day.
  10. Homemade Chicken Stock (Beef when I can afford it).
  11. Turmeric with pepper (added to breakfast smoothies).
  12. Probiotics to help my gut health and eating prebiotic rich foods.
  13. NOT counting calories.  (Concentrating more on healthy food choices.)
  14. Reduction in exercise. I was doing too much and can only do yoga for now.
  15. Trying to control and handle stress better. With four kids this is a challenge.
  16. Doing less. I hate this one because I love to work, but it’s helping me get better.
  17. Sleep. Taking breaks, sitting down. Basically when I feel tired, I need to rest.

I’m probably missing some things from this list and this isn’t going to work for everyone. I’m not even suggesting you follow any of this. I’m just including it to give a picture of what I’ve been through these last three months.

By doing these things:

I’ve actually seen my weight drop back to a healthy, ideal weight for my body size and type (losing 15-20 pounds depending on what time you want to start counting from).

I feel less puffy.

My digestion is improving.

I am starting to feel like I have more energy even though I still have bad days.

This is a frustratingly slow process, but I know I’m getting there. Being able to write this morning was a big indicator of that for me.

My ultimate goal aside from the obvious improvements to my health and ability to live my life, is to be able to get off the thyroid medication and still have a healthy functioning thyroid. I still have more tests to go through to see if that will even be a possibility. Taking the thyroid medicine is horribly inconvenient so I’m hopeful I won’t always need it. And now that I do have the official diagnosis of sub-clinical hypothyroidism, this is going to be something I’m “battling” the rest of my life. I will have to forever be watchful of my health if I want to keep this from progressing to full on hypothyroidism and there is a whole slew of other diseases that I am now at risk for because of this. It’s annoying to say the least.

I’m taking back my life though and as always, I’ve learned so much through this process.

I now have a greater empathy for people who live with chronic disease or who are constantly in poor health. Until now, it’s always been hard for me to sympathize because I’ve had good health most of my life and the energy I needed to get things done. Now I truly understand that sometimes you just can’t-get-up or do the things that you would genuinely like to do. I understand now how frustrating that can be. And while I have faith that I will get better, I also know that this happened to me for a reason. Perhaps this greater love and empathy I’ve gained IS the reason.

Through this process I’ve also learned that I really do need to focus on being whole.

I need to take better care of myself. In many ways, I’ve run faster than I’ve had strength. I’ve pushed myself many times, too hard and for too long. I have great confidence in my abilities, but while I focus on taking care of my family and helping those around me, I matter too. I am important enough for me to take care of myself also. In my mind, that sounds horribly selfish, and many people are criticized these days for their self centered attitudes, but I don’t really think this is selfish of me. My body was shutting down and going into survival mode. I could no longer ignore what was happening to me and while you might think this is me being dramatic, I felt like my body was dying, but I could never voice it. I didn’t know how to voice it.

I just knew something was horribly wrong.

But now I know.

And it’s not all that bad.

I’m not dying and I will get better.

I’m being made anew and I can’t help but be grateful for this process.

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Time Traveling With Kids: Childhood Memories

memoriesToday I took my two youngest children back in time to a place where my fondest childhood school days were experienced.

Twenty five years ago I was a little girl playing tag, swinging as high as I could go, pretending to rob a train, having races to the top of the jungle gym, rubbing dirt on my hands so the rings wouldn’t give me blisters, lying in the grass in the sun, looking for four leaf clovers, making clover flower crowns and pretending there were trolls under the slide as we slide down the “bridge.”

It was there on that little first and second grade playground of my little mountain school where I made my first true friend.

It was there I first remember conquering a fear as I tried again and again to swing on the rings. I remember leprechaun foot prints, my first standardized testing, what it meant that someone was popular and I was not, and being bullied. I remember the great swelling of love for my few true friends who always knew how to make me forget about the things that made me sad.

As I watched my kids play under the big canopy of trees on some of the very pieces of playground equipment that I had played on, I could see myself, happy, and running from my class room to go off on my next adventure with my friends.

These were my happiest school memories.

When I think of the things I went through, the struggles I had, I truly believe that God put me there on that mountain school playground to save me. I needed that time of stability to be a child. I needed those friends that I made and kept through childhood.

When my two youngest kids wanted to take a break from playing, I took them over to look through the windows of my old classrooms.

Even though the rooms are used as storage now, there are still relics of teachers with displays on the walls and the evidence of years of students. For a moment, I could see where we’d have story time and where my life size drawing of myself hung on the window next to my class mates.  I was able to tell my son, who’s going into first grade, what I used to do in class and what I used to play with my friends. I told him about some of the games we made up. I could see the wheels turning in his little head of some of the things he too could do with his friends.

I had no idea what this little trip to the playground was going to do to me.

It was just a beautiful summer morning. Even though I’d driven past the closed down school hundreds of times, today was the first time in twenty five years that I had actually set foot on that playground. It hit me. It hit me hard.  And while I am weeping about it now, there was nothing but absolute joy for me while I was there sharing this experience with my kids. My tears right now, are tears of joy and gratitude for those happy childhood memories –some of the very best memories that I have.

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